The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) is a non-profit organization established in 2005, promoting literacy, equality and human rights by turning “fans into heroes.” The organization taps the infrastructures of the thriving Harry Potter fan community, including blogs, podcasts, conventions, fan fiction sites, and wizard rock (Harry Potter themed music) concerts, to mobilize the fan community towards civic engagement. The HPA leadership includes a handful of paid staff members and a network of volunteer staff, dispersed around the nation, conducting most of their communication online. The local, more face-to-face-oriented component of the HPA includes a network of over 250 chapters in high schools, colleges and communities nationwide and abroad. The mostly youth-led chapters engage in national campaigns but also promote local projects based on their members’ interests.
In its nine years of existence, the HPA has engaged in multiple campaigns, some independent, and some in conjunction with established non-profit organizations. Every year, the organization runs book drives for communities in need. Perhaps their most visible campaign has been Helping Haiti Heal in 2010, in which they raised $123,000 in two weeks from small donations to send 5 cargo planes full of supplies to Haiti—an achievement reached in part due to their collaboration with the Nerdfighters. HPA’s more recent campaigns include Equality FTW (for the win), raising $95,000 for action around immigration, education and LGBTQ equality, and the Not in Harry's Name campaign, through which HPA members lobbied Warner Brothers to carry exclusively Fair Trade certified chocolates by the end of 2015. The HPA has also mobilized around marriage equality, with members phone-banking to persuade residents of Maine and Rhode Island to legalize same-sex marriage. The HPA holds an annual fundraiser, Equality FTW which, in 2014, raised $154,000.
In 2011, HPA launched Imagine Better, a project that aims to bring the model behind the HPA—mobilizing fan communities to civic action—to other fan groups and content worlds. Imagine Better has launched campaigns around the Hunger Games movie series and around the Superman movie Man of Steel.
See Neta Kligler-Vilenchik's By Any Media Necessary Chapter, "Decreasing World Suck", to learn more about the HPA, Imagine Better, and other groups who employ fan activism.
See the Harry Potter Alliance’s “Make it IRL” workshop, devised by HPA spokesperson Lauren Bird, for a hands-on workshop designed to encourage participants to make connections between popular culture and real-world issues.
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